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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 1:00 PM

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Justin Rude: Good news chatters, Tom Sietsema's 2010 Fall Dining Guide is hitting the digital news-stands this afternoon! Want to be among the first to see it? Sign up for our newsletter here. You can find us under the arts and living sections. Our favorite tidbit gets the box.In other news, we missed the fact that last week was mental-health awareness week, so we are honoring it today by giving away a boxed set that contains not the fifth season, not the sixth season, but the complete eight-season run of Monk.Tom's Dining Guide is all about insider tips this year, so to win this very heavy set, all you have to do is let us in on your best DC drinks and dining insider secret. Where can you find killer chili? Who makes the best bloody Mary? Which bar has a better late night menu than lunch menu? Our favorite tidbit wins the box.

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Belle & Sebastian: I'm going to the concert tonight at Constitution Hall. Is Metro a good bet for a weeknight concert like this? (Show starts at 8, there's an opening act) I'm concerned about missing the last train home. Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: Constitution Hall usually has an 11 p.m. curfew so you shouldn't have any problem catching the last train home. Enjoy the show -- wish I was going.

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Party Theme! : I know this isn't technically a "going out" question, but I love the chats so much that I'm trying my luck. I have a birthday coming up at the end of the month and am in desperate need of a fantastic party theme. The crowd is early-to-mid 20s, and previous party themes have included a Pink Party, Glee, and Swinging 60s, to give you an idea. Thoughts?

Stephanie Merry: I had a mad tea party-themed birthday a couple years ago, and it was a lot of fun. Everyone wore hats, we played croquet and I gave a prize (a bottle of sweet tea vodka) to the most original (a Redskins hardhat). Chatters, feel free to chime in.

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Crochet Coral Reef?: A co-worker has been telling me about an exhibit coming up at Natural History with a crochet coral reef. I'm pretty sure she crocheted some herself. Is it worth seeing? Would it be something that my eight year old niece might like? Thanks.

Alex Baldinger: With a name like the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, how can it not be? But seriously, I'm excited to check it out when it opens Saturday. It's a great way to introduce kids to concepts of nature and mathematics as well; and if it's not your niece's cup of tea, you can wow her with the rest of the Natural History museum's offerings.

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Hotel Bars: Gurus,We've decided to switch up our usual weekend bar routine with a little hotel bar tour. We're likely to start with Bourbon Steak and head towards downtown from there. What are a few that we can't miss? Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: reservation for the pretty great "Hangover Bellini Brunch" at the W's P.O.V. bar.

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2 Lovey-Dovey Couch Potatoes on a DATE...: Hey Gurus!!! I need help. My dude and I are going on a much needed date Saturday. I've grown tired of movie nights on the couch and whenever we DO go out, we always do movies/dinner. This time I was thinking we could GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and OFF THE COUCH and do something active and perhaps different in the mid to late afternoon hours so we'd be home in time to cook dinner. But with the weather getting colder, being outside is out of the question. He's no help in this arena since he'd rather be cuddled up on the couch. Any ideas for us?

Alex Baldinger: Saturday's going to be 65 degrees and sunny, so I hardly think you should rule out being outdoors. It's a perfect time of year to head to one of the area's farms; pumpkins are the big thing right now, obviously, but the big boys like Cox Farms and Butlers Orchard have all kinds of different produce. Since the two of you are cooking dinner, why not cook using ingredients you buy at the farm? That sounds non-couchy.

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Phillies vs. Giants: Hi Gurus! Any recommendations of good places to drink and watch the Phillies/Giants games this weekend?

Alex Baldinger: Depends who you're rooting for. I'm no expert on the proclivities of Philadelphia sports fandom, but Rhino Bar usually gets big crowds for all of the Iggles games. If you're a Giants fan, here's my rec: ANYWHERE BUT THERE.

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It's all about the moving: I know this is off topic, but...I gotta move to Springfield from Petworth to take care of my Dad. My question is simple, where's the best places to get free boxes for packing up my stuff?

Alex Baldinger: Beer and wine stores are usually good for that kind of thing. Also, for what it's worth, U-Haul sells boxes pretty cheaply (bigger and better than you'll probably scrounge up elsewhere) and once you're done with the move, you can trade them back in.

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DC Arts: Hello Guru's, I have the opportunity to leave my 4month old with my mom on Saturday evening and would like to go out with my friend for some fun in DC/MD/NOVA, we're in our mid thirties, not into drinking and clubs but love arts/culture, looking for something upbeat, something that is moving (so not a contemporary/ballet/Opera kind), any suggestions? You are my only resort, have already looked all over the web, please help!Thanks

Stephanie Merry: There's a lot on stage worth seeing at the moment. I just saw the adorable You're a Good Man Charlie Brown up at H Street Playhouse, which was a lot of fun. There's also plenty of buzz surrounding Synetic's waterworks for King Arthur and Circle Mirror Transformation at Studio.

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Party Theme: My friends threw me a surprise party for my 29th birthday with a "come as you are" theme. They knew that I would be hanging around the house at 9pm in sweats (winter b-day) when they got me to go next door so they all dressed as they would at 9pm. It was a blast.

Stephanie Merry: That's a cute idea.

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Transformer Viewing: What is a good spot for viewing tonight's fliming of Transformers? Would like to take my 4 year old son...he is a big fan.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Hard to say you'll find them tonight, with this weather -- but there's a running Tweetathon about sightings. But Dr. Gridlock's "Transformers" street closures guide should give you some clues (looks like a lot are planned around 18th street near Constitution/Virginia through 7 a.m. tomorrow).

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Indie-esque dance party bars: Ok- Rumors, Ballroom, club scenes like Josephine's etc- not my scene. I'm a girl who likes a good dance party, but the kind with good music. Where do these places exist, H street? insider tip on drinks- the bartender at Bangkok 54 loungeside is a fantastic bartender, and the best at pulling off their extensive cocktail menu (must try the Flirtini!). Not to mention every weekday from 4- 6:30PM take 1/2 OFF Cocktails and $4.00 Starters. Their food can speak for itself.

Stephanie Merry: My go-to spots for dancing are along H Street and 14th/U: Rock and Roll Hotel, Little Miss Whiskey's, U Street Music Hall and the Black Cat. Those should fit the bill.

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Belle & Sebastian: Any idea what time the show will start, what time they will actually go on and how long they will play for?Thanks.

Alex Baldinger: The published schedule that Malitz found has the opener on at 8 p.m. and Belle and Sebastian on at 9:15. That's obviously subject to slide according to rock show protocols. A friend of mine saw them in NYC and reported a one hour and 45 minute set, so expect something similar.

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Washington, DC: I remember a while ago someone mentioned that there was a Bocci ball league in DC. I was reminded of it while in Baltimore's Little Italy a few weeks ago (awesome are btw, wish DC had a Little Italy) and was wondering how one goes about joining it next year. Is it a friends only type of group, or can strangers just join out of the blue? Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: Fritz and I are both bocce-ers. We play through DC Bocce League, which is open to all. Here's their Web site.

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Re: DC ARTS: Saw "Sabrina Fair" at Ford's Theater last weekend with a couple girlfriends and we loved it! It's charming, lightly funny, and afterward we waxed poetic about living in Paris.

Stephanie Merry: Right! Another great suggestion for non-bar entertainment on Saturday.

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RE: Phillies vs Giants: Thanks! I'm a Phillies fan, but going with one of my best friends who's a Giants fan. So I guess either neutral ground... or Rhino ;)

Alex Baldinger: Good plan. Whatever watering hole you find yourselves in, you won't have difficulty finding the game(s) on TV.

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Dining Secret: Maoz (on M & 18th) has the best fries in the city, even though they are a falafel place. Good falafel too.

Alex Baldinger: I like that. Will they put fries in with your falafel too? That's how they do it in Tel Aviv.

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free boxes for moving: are almost always on CL, but you do have to decide how comfortable you are with risk of bedbugs/silverfish/book lice/etc. Ew, but free. It's a tough one.

Alex Baldinger: A good tip for the moving box hunter out there.

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Belle & Sebastian opener: Just a tip for all the questions about start times -- the opening act is Versus, and they're great live. Don't be one of those people who get to the show late because you only want to see one band.

Alex Baldinger: Noted. Thank you.

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Halloween in DC: Hi, I'm the Pennsylvania poster from last week who is meeting friends from DC on Oct. 31st. The Gurus suggested National Harbor, which I would love to do, but our friends won't have a car and ours isn't big enough for four adults and two toddlers. So we'll be doing something in DC. (Our friends are staying in Dupont Circle.) Because the 31st is Halloween, are there any neighborhoods we should avoid? We won't be out late because the toddlers will need to get to bed, but I'd like not to run into crowds of drunken 20-somethings celebrating Halloween. Thanks much...

Lavanya Ramanathan: Ah, okay. Well, we're neck-deep in Halloween events right now, and honestly, practically none are slated for Oct. 31. They're all on the 30th. So Dupont will be so quiet on Sunday, you'll probably hear crickets. If you're looking for Metro-accessible, there is the zoo, but there's also a Lego exhibit at the National Building Museum, a Halloween-themed craft event at the Sackler Gallery; other ideas are in this story about kid-friendly events from this summer, written in part by the staff's resident dad, Justin.And try to end your evening with dinner together at Firefly in Dupont; the restaurant has an-always cozy feel, and has one of the best kid menus around. Plus, it has a great cocktail bar, so the adults can have a little fun, too. Hope this helps.

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Rock and Roll Hotel: Embarrassingly enough, I have never been there and I thought it was really a hotel. I'm going there for a show soon - what is the place like? Dress?

Stephanie Merry: Don't bother bringing your overnight bag. I guess it depends on the show, but that place is totally casual so you can't go wrong with jeans.

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Paul Collins: I saw in the Nightlife section that Paul Collins is playing this weekend in Silver Spring --- Friday night at Quarry House and Saturday at Joe's Record Paradise. So I have two questions --- what time will each of those appearances start and will both appearances include a full band or will it just be acoustic?

David Malitz: p.m. to 2 a.m. I *believe* he will have a full band for at least the Quarry House show, but I'm not positive. I saw him with the full band at Comet two months ago and it was truly awesome, one of the best shows I've seen recently.

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Chocolate Martini: Does anyone around here serve a mean chocolate martini? I've had a craving for weeks and a trip up to Hershey, PA isn't in the cards for Friday night :-)

Alex Baldinger: Co Co. Sala makes a few different kinds -- way easier to get there than Chocolatetown.

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Moving boxes: Please don't get used boxes from stores. You could bring cockroaches back with you and once they're in a residence, it's almost impossible to get rid of them. Get new boxes from UHaul--it's worth the expense.

Stephanie Merry: Wow. This would never occur to me! Now I can add cockroaches to my stinkbug and bedbug worries.

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Insider's Best Margarita: Without a doubt, Oyamel makes the most delicious traditional margaritas in the city. Instead of the typical nauseatingly salty rim around a goblet of neon green ooze, Oyamel serves an elegantly salted, herbed froth atop identifiable liquids in a respectable hand-held sized glass. Salted air + Potent libation = So good!

Stephanie Merry: Thanks for the tip.

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bar tidbit: Love the reverse Happy Hour at Brasserie Beck--can't beat the 1/2 drafts from 10-close and 1/2 off raw bar. Plus the service is great and the bar is generally pretty lively!

Alex Baldinger: Yeah, despite how much Fritz and I talk about Beck's late-night happy hour on here, I think it remains one of the city's best-kept secrets. Thanks.

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DAR Concert: Another tip for any concert at DAR - the day of the show, the front row typically opens up for sale as they have to set up the stage to make sure that row can be used for people. I got a front row ticket to Snow Patrol last year doing it and there was about 3 empty seats in my row. Same price, much better view!

Alex Baldinger: Now THAT is a great insider tip. Word to the wise for you Belle and Sebastian folks out there, but good for just about any show. Thanks.

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Insider tips for Silver Spring/Wheaton:: There is very good, reasonably priced sushi at Moby Dick (not the kebab place) in Wheaton. Their sunshine roll is a revelation -- the rolls are topped with a mixture that includes chunks of lemon rind. So delicious. Also, go to Sidebar and get whatever the special of the night is. It will be delicious. If previous experience is any guide, it will not be crowded or loud just a pleasant place to spend an hour or two. (You can spend the money you saved at Moby Dick. Sidebar cocktails are not cheap (but worth it). Brunch on Sundays at 8407 is better (in my experience) than dinner. House-made smoked salmon hash is addictive.

Stephanie Merry: This is definitely an interesting tip, but I'm still a little dubious -- sushi at Moby Dick's? Really? Also, stay tuned on the GOG and in Weekend for Fritz's take on Sidebar. He loves that place, too.

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Cleveland Park: Hitting up Indique for dinner on Friday night with the boy. Ideas for what to do around there afterwords? I like the rooftop at CP Bar and Grill, but sounds like it might be a bit chilly for that tomorrow night. Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: If you're sticking around the area, I love Atomic for low-key fun of the pool tables, board games and darts sort of evening. Think Rocket Bar, but with a graduate degree.For something a bit more dressed-up, walk down to Bardeo before it closes for a monthlong renovation as it merges with the neighboring Ardeo.

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Northern VA: Hi Gurus,Any ideas for a fall date for Friday or Saturday evening? Doesn't need to be outdoors but anything fall-related in the Northern Virginia and DC area would be great! Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: I'm going to reach again for Tabard Inn as a place to get a cocktail, talk and even people-watch while still keeping it cozy. If the weather is nice enough, take a nice long walk around the city.And it is the season for haunted walks and haunted houses, etc. Cox Farms on our list of pumpkin patches offers pumpkin-picking and kid-friendly stuff, but at night, there are haunted walks. And it's not NoVa or D.C., Markoff's Haunted Forest in Poolesville is a favorite around here (perhaps to scare you more, they make you sign a waiver).Oh, and as far as art is concerned: I'm actually making a little date myself of hitting the National Gallery early, then finishing the night at the bar at Rasika nearby, ordering a cocktail and sharing a bowl of that amazing chaat.

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In need of pumpkin beer!: Hi Gurus,Where can I go in DC to quench my thirst for tasty pumpkin ale? I've already hit Churchkey....so where else in the city is offering tasty pumpkin beer?

Stephanie Merry: Fritz and I just hit up Pizzeria Paradiso, and that place is heaven for fans of pumpkin ale.

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Thanks Gurus!: Gurus:We met at a couple of happy hours where I shared my angst over leaving DC. I have been here a week and love it, even with the rain (although it has been mainly sunny so far). I want to thank you for all the tips you gave (improv classes, bars, etc.) when I lived in DC. If you have any faves in Seattle, fee free to pass it on.thanksAlex

Lavanya Ramanathan: Good luck on the West Coast -- come back and visit anytime!

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Alex Baldinger: Alright folks -- will the person who recommended day-of, front-row tickets at D.A.R. Constitution Hall e-mail me at baldingera@washpost.com? I'll hook you up with the Monk DVDs. Thanks for stopping by, and we'll see you next week!


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